This isn’t what I originally intended to write this week, but goings on on Sunday changed my mind a bit, and people who follow me on Twitter may guess where this is heading. Anyway, if you cast your mind and browser back, dear hypothetical audience, you’ll remember I’ve spoken about the problems Digital Rights Management software and their effect on consumers in the past. Well, I’ve now experience their icy grasp in a medium other than video gaming. Recently I decided to wake up and join the mid-2010s and finally start buying BluRays. Progress and all that. Anyway, thanks to this I’ve come across the “Ultraviolet” scheme where in addition to the physical media you just bought, you get an additional download copy to play on mobile devices, computers &c. In theory anyway. This is, if you ask me, a brilliant idea on paper. The actual execution? Whhhoooo boy is that a whole different story.
A while back I ranted for a bit about the announced used games/trading policy on the Xbox One. It’s the post immediately prior to this one in fact. It seems I wasn’t the only one to feel this way, as the backlash was something to behold, that rare moment when gamers became collectively self aware enough to realise how both that and the always-on DRM (combined with a genuinely creepy Orwell-esque permanently on camera device) was a very bad thing for them as consumers.
Well, it seems Microsoft was deeply effected by said backlash, and has done a rather spectactular U-turn on things and now both the always online element and the trading nonsense is gone, as announced this very evening.
I’ll leave that in a paragraph of its own so it can sink in. Hell, I’ll even put it in bold. So it seems the people in charge at Microsoft aren’t as mad as first thought. Now, do I think it had anything to do with them actually listening to the fans? Well… yes and no. I doubt the complaints themselves had anything to do with is, not directly anyway, as they rarely do with big companies making any kind of decision. What I do think influenced this is the fact that since the announcement of the stupider features, the console has allegedly tanked in most markets. This would suggest a threat to profits, and that’s clearly what matters most to big business. Which gives tremendous credence to the whole “Vote with your wallets” thing myself and a number of other opponents of some of the sillier business practices have been saying all along. Take Heed, gamers, as this is a good thing for all of us as consumers.
Another positive to come out of this, as RPS’ John Walker points out, is that it starts to establish that Always-On DRM, another major bugbear of mine, and its invasive ilk is a direct threat to profit margins. If this becomes engrained in corporate consciousnesses we may see an eventual end to the practice. Again this is a good thing for all of us. I somehow doubt that the industry will become all pro consumer rights, at least not for a long, long time, but if they start to see that their own practices aren’t going to make them money it may come about by ulterior means. And if that’s what it takes to be treated reasonably by big business, I’m ok with that.
As for the Xbox One itself, as a device… well… while I will admit the removal of the silly stuff is a point in its favour, I remain unimpressed by Microsoft’s offerings from E3. Much like the previous 2 generations, if I am to buy in to this one, I’ll probably stick with either Sony or Nintendo, as both have demonstrated, through better consumer relations, less features that seem bad for gamers, cheaper/free online services (though I’m none too pleased about having to get PS+ to play online on a PS4, even if that doesn’t affect me that much) and even better exclusive titles, they’ve once again collectively incited me far more than the Xbox-du-jour.
Now that’s done with I’m hoping to come up with some more varied content for future posts, including some upcoming fiction, and hopefully not mentioning the XBox One for a looooooong time. I am so desperately trying not to turn this into Yet-Another-Games-Blog. Hopefully I can keep to that.
–Likes an absence of companies playing silly buggers